Thursday, July 30, 2009

Warrior's Duty by Jeanne Tomlin

When war comes to Wayfare Keep, Tamra has to fight, in every sense, to survive. Tamra is the Captain of the Guard of Wayfare Keep and nothing can distract her from her duty -- which is why she has joined her forces those of Sir Cedrian and the army of the city of Madrian to defend their land against invading enemies. When their army is routed and her lover, the scout, Jessup, is lost, she is shattered. Even worse lies ahead as the secrets of her past come to light. Each death in battle only makes their enemy stronger, allowing the enemy priests to summon invincible demons called ixich. Yet in their darkest hour, haunted by loss and with defeat imminent, Tamra and her allies call upon their deepest strengths to survive and triumph. When war comes to Wayfare Keep, Tamra has to fight, in every sense, to survive.

Why did you write this book?

I'm basically a story teller. These characters wanted their story told and gave
me the job.

What's your favorite part?

Tough question! Probably the part where Tamra and Jessup meet and, believe me,
it's not love at first sight. But unlike many writers, I enjoy writing battles
and fights. I love lots of adrenaline pumping, so those were fun too.

What was hardest to write?

The hardest for me is editing. Writing the first draft is fun. You're just
telling a story to yourself or that's how I do it anyway. Then you have to
figure out all the places where your story doesn't get across to a reader.
That's hard.

What do you hope readers get from it?

Since I'm a story teller, I hope the reader gets an enjoyable story. Is there
more to it? Yes, there are themes in there and thoughts about how the world and
people work, but they come out of the story, not the other way around.

What's next for you?

I have two new novels completed and I'm working on a third--so I suppose my next
job is the one I dislike most, like many writers. It's selling my work. *groans*

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Unselfish Gene by Robert Burns

It's love and terrorism in the time of cholera. In the mid-21st century, a form of bird flu has killed billions and turned most of the rest into mindless, stumbling zombie-like invalids. The few humans who had immunity now face the threat of a comet on a collision course with Earth. Settlers from the Moon colony were spared the disease, but face their own threats to survival: radiation-induced mental illness, a limited gene pool and shrinking resources. The Moon settlers have launched a last-ditch mission to Earth to salvage human DNA and other crucial materials ... before the comet strikes. The salvage crew find the biggest threat to the mission is neither the zombies or the comet, but insanity within their own ranks.

Interview with Robert Burns:

Why did you write this book?

Well, first I believe writing to be an obsessive compulsive disorder, that is a disease of the mind. Why else would I keep writing these things for little to no money? But Unselfish Gene was an attempt to write "normal" science fiction. I really tried to write an ordinary space opera, as these things tend to be selling. My other books, reject by too, too many agents and publishing houses are farther out. Unselfish was targeted at a more conservative publishing industry. I think I'm just not wired to do conservation, normal sci-fi.

What was your favorite part to write?

The love scenes, actually, and some of the scenes that examine the effect technology and environment have on religion and other cultural aspects. I just put in the violence and zombies because that's what seems to be what the market is calling for.

What was hardest to write?

The middle is always the hardest part to write for me. That's where it's all too easy to get off track and loose complete control of the novel. Some loss of control is good. It is those "where's this going" places that creativity is forced out of its hiding place.

What are your hopes for this book?

I hope readers get a book they can't put down. I hope they get pleasure from reading the Unselfish Gene.

What's next?

I'm alternating between working on a sequel to Unselfish, tentatively titled "Clear Mind" but which I think of as "Buddhists in Space," and the third novel of my occult sci-fi trilogy, Awakening of an Alien God. When I'm in an editing mode, I review changes made to Shibboleth, a novel about mind viruses (memes) that I wrote more than 25 years ago.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Ghost for Rent by Penny Lockwood

This middle grade, paranormal, ghost story is aimed at youth in grades four to six. It is approximately 13,280 words, 10 chapters, and 65 pages long. The story begins when eleven year old Wendy Wiles learns her parents are planning to get divorced. Forced to leave her beloved city home for a cheaper country place, Wendy, her mother, and her twelve year old brother move to rural Warren, Oregon.

On move-in day, Wendy meets a neighbor girl who tells her their quaint country home is haunted. Events proceed quickly as Wendy, her new friend, Jennifer, and Wendy’s brother, Mike, see ghostly figures dancing in the woods. Despite Mom’s claims that “there’s no such thing as ghosts,” paranormal events continue to occur in the Wiles’ home. Meanwhile her brother Mike, arch-tease, continues to torment Wendy, claiming he’s causing the unusual happenings.

Wendy searches through library records to get to the bottom of the mystery. Finally with Jennifer’s help, Wendy begins to unravel the truth. At last even Mike can no longer disbelieve and decides to aid Wendy in her search. By the end of the story, the three young sleuths have uncovered an accidental death, a suicide and a murder.



Interview with Penny Lockwood:

1. Why did you write this book?

I actually wrote it as a challenge to myself. Previously, all my material was in the form of non-fiction articles and adult short stories for magazines. My daughter,who was still in middle school when I wrote it, had insisted I wasn't an author because I didn't have a book published. Of course, I had to write a book. I wrote this particular book because I have wanted to write children's stories for a long time. There are a lot of ghost sightings in our area and one of the scenes in the story had been described to me by a friend who experienced the incident. It seemed like a natural story to write. The odd thing is when I was a child, one of my first written stories was "Patty and the Country Ghost." :-)

2. What was hardest to write about this book?

Writing a book was hard for me in general. I am used to writing short stories which are quick, to the point, and don't have a lot of "extra" meat in them. Filling up
a whole novel with description, action, extra characters, etc. took a lot of effort.

3. What did you enjoy writing the most?

I loved coming up with the different ways the ghosts communicated with Wendy, my main character. I one of those people who believe in ghosts. I think that spirits can be "stuck" between planes of existence when something is left unsettled in
the "real" world. I also liked making Wendy a strong female character who won't give in even when the adults in her life are telling her ghosts aren't real.

4. What do you hope folks will get from this book?

Mostly, I hope that children will be entertained. That said, I also would like them to realize that families have problems, but they can be worked through.
Big brothers can be a pain, but they are also there for their siblings when they need to be. Finally, moving from someplace you love isn't always a bad thing. Sometimes you can make new friends and have great adventures.

5. What's next for you?

I am working on a sequel to Ghost for Rent. I hope to have it finished within the year. I've also got a picture book which is in a rewrite stage. Finally, I do a lot of article writing - primarily writing tips, parenting tips, and teen self-help. Lately, I've also done some short stories and articles for children.

Read Penny's blog at

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Transforming Realities by R. L. Copple

When Sisko refuses the demon Beltrid's request to use his miracle-producing ring for selfish purposes, Sisko's world is turned upside down. Trapping Sisko's wife, Gabrielle, inside the "Crystal of Virtues," Beltrid sends Sisko and his two teenage children, Nathan and Kaylee, on a journey to find seven virtues that will free her. Simple? Not when a demon is involved. The trip takes several twists and turns leading to a showdown at the steam house where it all started. They discover that the reality of the ring transcends healing sicknesses—they discover a transforming reality.

This book is the second book in the Reality Series, the first being Infinite Realities.

Order author-signed copies of either book at:

You can also purchase the e-book of Transforming Realities in pdf, pdb, epub, or mobi.

Want a Free Book?
The ebook version of Infinite Realities, the first book, a novella, is available for free from his site. Rick says, "It is an easy read that will not only ground one in Sisko's world and story, but give one a taste for my writing style so you'll know whether you want to spend the bucks on Transforming Realities. I'd encourage folks to take advantage of it if they like original fantasy."

Interview with R. L. Copple:

1. Why did you write this book?

Pretty much why I write most stories. To tell a great story that will
capture people's imaginations, and to help others see perspectives that
they may not have seen before through new eyes. I think fantasy lends
itself well to those goals, and what I hope this novel has accomplished.

2. What was hardest to write about this book?

The hardest was the climax chapter. To tell you why would mean I have to
initiate a memory wipe right afterwards on you. Wouldn't want to give
away any spoilers. But I'll just say it made me cry. Even the first few
times going back over it to edit the chapter. Those who have read it
will know what I'm talking about. I don't expect everyone to have the
same reaction; I guess I'm sentimental that way.

To point to another take on this question, however, one of the more
difficult pitfalls to avoid since this series has a "magical ring" as
part of the story, was to avoid events and characters that felt as if I
were copying Lord of the Rings. More than once I would reject an idea
for something to happen because it had already been done to death or
would sound like something out of LOTR. That said, I do have one
not-hard-to-spot nod to the LOTR story in the book. But I did my best to
avoid having it feel like a LOTRs copycat story. And by the reactions
I've received to date, I'd say I succeeded. But it wasn't always easy to
3. What did you enjoy writing the most?

There are several scenes that I enjoyed writing. What I like about any
story is when a scene comes together, and all the right pieces fall into
place that make it work on several levels. Sometimes that happens when
I'm writing the first draft. Other times it happens when I'm editing it
or when a critique partner points out something that leads my thoughts
into a different area I hadn't thought of before.

But when it works, I love it. Not only do I find a good scene that I
think people will enjoy reading, but it is natural to the characters and
the book's theme/story movement.

One particular scene I enjoyed happened on an edit when it was pointed
out to me that it didn't work, and I realized it was because even though
a lot of threats were happening, the characters never had to struggle to
avoid them. It then dawned on me that this scene with fire could fit
into the whole Realities theme and story arch, and I ended up writing my
first song in that chapter. One of the more ho hum chapters in the books
ended up becoming one of my favorites, and one I think will stand out in
reader's minds.

4. What do you hope folks will get from this book?

As far as specific lessons or morals, I'd rather allow the reader to see
those in the story themselves than to tell them what I want them to get
out of it. I've seen a few interpretations on my first book that I
didn't have in mind when I wrote it, but the reader sees it. A good
story will be like that, and so I wouldn't want to freeze the "lesson"
in place for folks, but allow God to use it with the individual as He
sees fit.

But, like I said above, I do hope that it will make them think about
their own faith, whether Christian or non-Christian, and look at things
from a fresh perspective. I titled it Transforming Realities because in
the end, it is exposure to God's reality that can transform our lives
for the better. So I pray that I've been able to give folks a taste of
that even within a fictional story that they will enjoy reading.

5. What's next for you?

I'm currently editing the third and final book of the Reality series,
and I fully believe I've been able to write a book that will top
Transforming Realities. These books follow the ring's journey, and I
love the ending I've devised for how the series ends, and a lot of fun
stuff happens on their way to that glorious event. Unfortunately it will
be next year sometime before I can share that with all but a few crit
partners. Such is the writer's life.

I also have a space opera novel that I'm getting ready to shop for a
publisher/agent. And I have one space opera novel I want to rewrite in
the future, as well as outlines/beginnings for about four other novels.
And on the side I keep writing short stories and flashes when I'm able.
So, I've plenty to keep me busy.

Learn more about Copple at

Monday, July 20, 2009

CSFF Presents: The Enclave by Karen Hancock

When Lacey McHenry accepts a prestigious research fellowship at the world-renowned Kendell-Jakes Longevity Institute, she sees it as a new start on life. But a disturbing late-night encounter with an intruder leads to an unexpected cover-up by Institute authorities, and she soon realizes there's more going on than she ever imagined.

She finds a supporter in genetics researcher Cameron Reinhardt. However, Reinhardt is a favorite of the Institute's director, and she can't help wondering if he, too, is in on the cover-up. The brilliant but absentminded researcher turns out to have his own secrets, some of them dark and deadly. The Enclave is characterized by adventure, intrigue, spiritual analogy, and romance, all set in an unusual but fully realized world--one that may have its foundations on earth but which, the more one learns of it, doesn't seem much like the earth we know at all.

For More Information:

Book link:
Karen Hancock’s Web site -
Karen Hancock’s blog -

*CSFF Participants’ Links:

Brandon Barr
Jennifer Bogart
Keanan Brand
Grace Bridges
Melissa Carswell
Valerie Comer
Amy Cruson
CSFF Blog Tour
Stacey Dale
D. G. D. Davidson
Janey DeMeo
Jeff Draper
Emmalyn Edwards
April Erwin
Karina Fabian
Beth Goddard
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Becky Jesse
Cris Jesse
Carol Keen
Krystine Kercher
Dawn King
Mike Lynch
Melissa Meeks
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Eve Nielsen
John W. Otte
Steve Rice
Crista Richey
James Somers
Speculative Faith
Rachel Starr Thomson
Steve Trower
Fred Warren
Elizabeth Williams

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For Shrieking Out Loud by Joyce Faulkner

An Erma-Bombeck style of humorous articles covering everything from marriage to writing to buying a new car with cash, Joyce takes an unorthodox yet-so-true look at life. Most of the stories tickled my funny bone; others made my nose sting with tears because what she wrote was so touching.

Want examples? Let's start with the story about how she cut off an SUV in order to get to the gas station before they changed the prices. After a harrowing (and funny) description of her aggressive driving, she discovers she saved $3.50:

"So I nearly killed us for roughly one third of a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream? Cool."

OR her explanation of the "bird" finger fits in God's plan: "If there were fewer jerks in the world, we'd only have four fingers." (She says it made sense at the time; it still does.)

OR her assessment of self-defense tips: "Go for your attacker's gonads. Get real. I want to stay as far away from them as possible--and besides, I have trouble with zippers, too."

While all the chapters were funny, some were deeply profound: her evening of space geekdom where she met some of the original astronauts and realized that they were ordinary men, or the man who cornered her at a reading to tell her the story of someone he knew--a story he'd wanted to write for decades, but could never do; the story he wanted her to write. "Story tellers are the glue between people who lived before and those who live now--and those who live in the future," she said. And when her husband replied that it was a great responsibility, she countered, "No, it's a blessing."

You are truly blessed, Joyce, and I feel blessed to have read your book.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Gonzo the Curious Cat by Martha Ramirez

Gonzo is a curious cat that lives on Farmer Louie's farm. As he learns the many lessons of life by his misadventures, he is often reminded of Farmer Louie's motto, "Safety First." Farmer Louie always knew that Gonzo's curiosity and adventurous personality would one day get him into trouble. But when Gonzo finds himself lost in an unfamiliar place, he discovers the true meaning of why it is important to be extra careful and less curious. Will Gonzo find the special gift he is searching for while lost? Come join the fun and meet all the playful barnyard friends, Gonzo the Curious Cat, and Farmer Louie. Learn what friendship and safety can bring.

Visit for more info

An Interview with Martha Ramirez:

1. Why did you write this book?

Gonzo the Curious Cat was written in honor of my brother-n-law Gonzo and father-in-law. When my brother-in-law was struck by a car (the second time in his life) I decided that children need to be reminded about safety. My brother-in-law, Gonzo, is like a cat with nine lives! In the book I share stories on how Gonzo's curiosity gets him into trouble. Farmer Louie reminds Gonzo how to stay safe, but Gonzo is more mischievous than Farmer Louie would like.

2. What was hardest to write about this book?

My father-in-law passed away shortly before I started writing the story. Though he couldn't read English I still would had liked to have shown him what he would had looked like as a cartoon.

3. What did you enjoy writing the most?

Naming all the animals after my family.

4. What do you hope folks will get from this book?

The importance of safety.

5. What's next for you?

A romance suspense (YA) debut novel.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Gracious Living by Valerie Kent

Gracious Living is an easy-to-read decade-long journey that offers tips and suggestions on how senior citizens can stretch their dollar and get the most for their money. Eleven chapters cover every important aspect of living together, from the wedding preparations to where to live. Key considerations follow each chapter for quick reference: Considerations like where and when to buy clothing, choosing a place to live and juggling your finances. Artist Jeff Nitzberg adds his unique touch with original drawings introducing each chapter.



We all aspire to the many extras which supposedly make our lives more enjoyable. For some, the list is headed up by second cars, designer clothing, even dining out regularly in expensive restaurants. Where cash is scarce, it demands real discipline to examine spending patterns and determine just what we truly need, then prioritize whatever we merely want. Because money is one of the central issues in any marriage, retiring on a fixed income is likely to increase rather than reduce unavoidable tension over it. Careful planning and thoughtful shopping can help. This can reduce costs (even if our economy worsens) and thereby free up funds for luxuries further down everybody’s wish list. The discipline to follow through with a mutually-agreed-on plan, once made, is tough, but rewarding.

All this requires an investment of time: time, our most available resource. It is hard to change old habits, and an exertion of will is sometimes required to pay attention to details you never bothered about before. Joint planning, joint responsibility and joint action are vital now that you will be spending much more time together. Having that “we” approach is more important than ever to insure graceful living.

Our working years could certainly have benefited from this prescription for a happy life together, but the pressures and urgencies of raising a family and establishing a career often leave couples living quite separate lives. Each partner has had his or her own areas of responsibility, and in practice true collaboration is often lacking. Being forced to strengthen the bond of “we” during a financial squeeze may significantly improve living together in retirement by forcing the reconsideration of older, sloppier patterns.

One of the most difficult tasks is settling on those more urgent, less avoidable priorities. Dealing with the money forces decisions as to whose preference will prevail and facilitates true compromise. Inevitably somebody’s preference gets bumped off the budget. Thos fulfilled golden years are impossible without new level of mutual respect and open communication.


At eighty-eight, Valerie Kent is the survivor of a long lifetime spent adjusting to dramatically evolving worlds. She moved from Britain to the United States in 1933. Valerie began at the age of forty-six the drawn-out process of education - seven universities - that would generate, initially, a career as a drug and alcohol counselor for troubled women, then a decade as a celebrated college teacher and - ultimately - a final, exultant marriage. This is her story.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Higher Honor by S.M. Kirkland

When Cadet Cassidy Sanders is brutally assaulted, she struggles to carry on as she turns further from the God of her youth. Her attacker is an acquaintance who has his own struggles to face. God uses their mutual friends to show both cadets the depth
of his grace and mercy.

Higher Honor is set within the sub-culture of America’s military colleges. The novel focuses on the elements of honor, brotherhood, duty, and the spirit of the characters to face and overcome challenges that grow them into the military’s
next generation of strong, capable leaders. The realism of Higher Honor’s setting and plot is a result of experience, observation, and much research.


Higher Honor is the story about a rape and how it affects not only the victim, but the perpetrator and their friends. Kirkland handles the situation--including the actual rape itself--with realism yet delicacy, so that you get the horror of the situation without the morbidity. Even more, she successfully portrays the emotional and psychological trauma Cassidy goes through--and does a convincing job of making Chris, the rapist, a believable and very human character instead of a cardboard human.

One of the themes is learning to depend on God, and finding strength in God's love. I think Cassidy explained it best when she told a support group that she had to remember that God defines who she is--not those few horrible minutes in the shower. For that line alone, this book will remain with me forever.
There is also an important theme of forgiveness, though I was not so pleased at her willingness to defend her rapist when he went to turn himself in. I was glad leveler heads prevailed.

I thought a few parts of it--like her recovery after she rediscovered Christ in her life--a little too easy, but not unbelievably so. Overall, a very good book, and I think many that Christians, especially any who have been in Cassidy's situation, will identify with her.


S.M. Kirkland brings firsthand experience to her fiction.
While a student at North Georgia College and State
University (the senior military college of Georgia) she
enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard. During a 10-
year military career, she served as a photo- and broadcast
journalist while serving in Italy and for the 1996 Summer
Olympic Games in Atlanta.

Kirkland currently works for the Calhoun Times as the
government reporter and her feature stories have appeared
in newspapers nationwide. Her first fiction publication was
a short story “Fair Balance” included in the anthology Light
at the Edge of Darkness (TWCP, 2007). This story received
several rave reviews.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Sacrifice of the Sage Hen by Susie Schade-Brewer

1859: Pre-Civil War Independence, Missouri. The people are restless - the effects of prejudice and hate. Blood has already been spilled by some from over the border, and there is talk of war.

To add to the unrest from the border skirmishes, a devastating drought has fallen over the entire Northern region of Missouri.

Full of spirit and restless rebellion, Charlotte Mary West, called Charlie by her friends, is concerned, but what captures her most frequent thought is finding relief from her own boring and uneventful life. Grant, her husband of an arranged marriage, owns a general store in the embarkation town of Independence, Missouri. His only ambition is to make fistfuls of money selling supplies to the pioneers of the wagon trains leaving down the Oregon and California Trails. But waiting on customers and stocking shelves in a general store has never been Charlie’s idea of adventure. She feels life is going on without her.

And now her father and her best friend are joining a wagon train to go west, leaving her behind with her husband. Already chafing at the expectations he places on her to act like a proper lady, Charlie longs to break away and fly to freedom. Somehow, someway, she must convince her husband to forfeit his dream and join the wagon train.

Then tragedy strikes when a fire comes off the dry prairie and ravages half the town. Many buildings including West’s Mercantile burn to the ground. Some are injured – and a few die, including Charlie’s husband. Now at only age 19, she is a widow, no means of support - and quite unexpectedly - a mother to an orphaned mixed-race child.

Dirks Braelen is on the run from his life as a hired gun in Texas. He's ready to hang up his holster and try to find some peace for his soul. He may be ready to leave his old life behind, but the people he knew then may not let him.

He's trying to escape his past. She's trying to escape her present. To find happiness, Charlie and Dirks have to reach back into a story from Charlie's father and find out the true sacrifice of the Sage Hen.

For More Information:

Interview with Susie Schade-Brewer:

Why did you write this book?

At the time I started writing the book, I was around 50 years old, and although I had done a lot of writing over the years, it had been bits and pieces, mostly because I was busy working, raising my family, and taking care of elderly parents. By the time the kids were raised and gone, my marriage was falling apart. I found writing to be like therapy. One can be as sweet – as angry – as submissive -- or rebellious as they want, and (I hate to admit it) the empowerment was wonderful.
I remembered an idea that had stuck in my head since I was about seven years old. The storyline revolved around one central character, a feisty young woman who was not remiss to speak her mind, and for some odd reason, a sage hen was always there too. I don’t know why that in particular, but who understands the brain anyway, right? I thought, ‘now is the perfect time to indulge this flight of my imagination.’ The manuscript underwent about 20 revisions over a 6-year period, and the end result was exactly what I had always wanted. Plus, the therapeutic value probably saved me a lot of money!

What was your favorite part?

I think the easiest parts to write, because they just flowed out of me, were the more intimate thoughts and feelings of the main character, Charlie West. She is 19, and stuck in a loveless marriage. Because she is living a life that others had arranged for her, she is unable to pursue her own dreams -- all of which seemed apropos for me (except the 19 year old part – but I was once). And although she wishes to be good and dutiful and obedient, there is a certain defiance at having lost control of her life.

What was the hardest to write?

The parts about the fire and the dying and having to describe to the reader how bad it hurts and make them really feel it. Also the parts about the criminal acts of the villains, because he killed and mutilated animals.

What do you hope your readers will get from your book?

This story is about life – and love – and making choices, which all humans must do. And making our dreams as much a priority to us as others’. I guess it’s about understanding our self-worth, the importance of not allowing anyone to take that from you. It is my hope that the reader will take that key message away with them.

What’s next for you?

I am working on the sequel to The Sacrifice of the Sage Hen. In this first book, much of the story takes place in Independence, Missouri, which in the 19th century was what they called ‘the jumping off’ place for those who wanted to travel over the Oregon or Santa Fe Trails. Charlie’s life is as a storekeeper’s wife.
The next book, which most of my readers have said they really want to read about, will be when they actually get on the trail and deal with the day-to-day challenges and dangers of trail life. At that time, those who were brave enough to pack up their families and all their worldly goods into a 4’ x 10’ wagon knew that 1 in 5 of them would die before reaching their destination. The trail to Oregon was wild and 2,000 miles long, would take them 4 to 6 months to get there, and was fraught with many hidden dangers.

So, this is what I’m currently working on, plus working at my other business, a professional writing service called TPW Writing Services, doing copywriting and resumes. Both projects are very time-consuming. I’ve thought about petitioning my Congressman to pass some kind of bill to avail more hours in the day, but I didn’t think it would do much good.

If anyone wants to visit my book’s website, it is Please also visit my blog,, and leave a comment on a subject written there, or start a new one. I like discussing anything having to do with western lore or the writing life. Thanks, Karina, for the interview. All the best to you.